What’s happening in Washington

The president put someone in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency who has sued that same agency 14 times to weaken clean air, clean water and other environmental protections.

He signed an executive order to put the Keystone XL pipeline on a fast track to construction, another order designed to eliminate Clean Water Act protections for more than 30,000 miles of Wisconsin’s streams, and a third order rolling back the Clean Power Plan, effectively allowing power plants to emit more pollution and adding more soot to the air we breathe and more climate-destabilizing carbon pollution to the planet’s atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Congress has passed legislation abolishing new stream water protections from coal mining in Appalachia, voted to make it easier to sell off public lands, and introduced bills to abolish the EPA.

After talking during the campaign about “abolishing” the EPA himself or “leaving just a little bit,” the president proposed a budget that would slash EPA funding by 31 percent. These cuts would virtually eliminate funding for proven programs needed to clean up the nation’s great waterways, from San Francisco Bay to Puget Sound; decimate environmental research and science programs; and effectively take the nation’s environmental cops off the polluter beat.

A “little bit” of environmental protection is not nearly enough—not when it comes to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the people and places we love. 

Most Americans want more, not fewer, protections for the people and places we love

These moves to dismantle our environmental protections violate core values shared by millions of Americans.

The vast majority of us believe the health of our children is more valuable than the dollars saved when a company dumps pollution into our air or water. The future of our children and life on our planet makes the investment in clean, renewable energy a no-brainer for everybody, save perhaps the executives of a few outdated fossil fuel companies. The idea that we’ve found some places so special, some would even say sacred, that we’ve declared them off-limits to development is one of our proudest achievements.

But our environmental values are meaningless if we don’t act on them, and stand up and defend them when they’re under attack— especially given the power of old but entrenched industries that are wed to a status quo that no longer serves our needs, and a worldview that puts their short-term economic interests above the health of the American people and the environment we share.

Our path forward

Our best chance of stopping these attacks will come in the U.S. Senate, where 41 votes will be enough to block most legislation.

Wisconsin Environment, together with our nationwide network of state affiliates, is urging our senators to stand up and protect our health and the places we love.

And if enough of us speak up, we can win.

Recently, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah filed a bill that would sell off 3.3 million acres of America’s public lands — an area the size of Connecticut. Several days later he withdrew the bill in the face of overwhelming public opposition, including 1,000 people in Montana turning out to a pro-public lands rally and this comment from an National Rifle Association member on Chaffetz’s Facebook page: “Rescind H.R. 621 the sale of public lands! It’s not your land to sell. It’s the people’s land. Many people use it for many purposes.” Hear and respect our voice.”

We can win, but only if we bring together people from all walks of life, from both sides of the political divide, and unite in action to defend the places we love.

Reckless proposals to roll back clean air, clean water and other environmental protections keep coming every week. We need to build support now to protect our health and environment.

Now, it's up to us

The leaders and activists of the past saw the result of decades of unchecked pollution in our smog-covered skylines and our toxic rivers. They worked against all odds and, ultimately, their values won the day. Our environmental forbears organized the first Earth Day, supported and passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, and created the Environmental Protection Agency. Now the torch passes to us.

The children we know and love today can live cleaner, healthier lives in a greener world, but only if we can keep our environmental protections in place and make them stronger. It’s up to us.

Issue updates

Report | Wisconsin Environment

Skating on Thin Ice

Every four years, the world’s finest winter athletes gather for the top competition on snow and ice. But even as we celebrate competition and athleticism, global warming is undermining the climate conditions that make the Winter Olympics possible.

Nine of the hottest years ever recorded on Earth have happened since 2000.i Winter average temperatures across the contiguous United States have warmed more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970.ii The primary cause of this warming is human use of fossil fuels and we need to act now to prevent the worst from happening.

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News Release | Wisconsin Environment

Wisconsin Solar Jobs Grew 80% in 2013

Wisconsin has more than 1,800 people employed manufacturing and installing pollution-free solar energy, according to a national Solar Jobs Census released yesterday by The Solar Foundation. According to the analysis, Wisconsin ranks 24th in nation for solar jobs.

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News Release | Wisconsin Environment

Report Connects Political Influence of Big Ag with Polluted Waterways in Wisconsin

Madison, WI – As more and more of Wisconsin’s lakes suffer from pollution at the hands of industrial agriculture, a new report by Wisconsin Environment Research & Policy Center reveals the political influence of the agribusiness lobby and its role in weakening Wisconsin’s clean water protections. In the last decade, the number of permitted factory farms in Wisconsin has more than doubled, and the agencies charged with enforcing the state’s clean water standards have allowed for the rapid growth of industrial farming.

 

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Report | Wisconsin Environment Research & Policy Center

The Power to Pollute

Factory farms are polluting Wisconsin’s treasured waterways. Runoff laced with pollution from animal manure contaminates the state’s lakes and rivers, and the number of factory farms in the state is rapidly increasing. The agencies charged with keeping Wisconsin’s water clean have issued more and more water permits to industrial farming operations every year, even though livestock operations have already polluted thousands of acres of lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers.

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News Release | Wisconsin Environment

No New Dirty Power Plants under EPA standard

Madison, WI – On the heels of recent flooding throughout Wisconsin, the third largest wildfire in California history and devastating, record-breaking floods in Colorado, the Obama administration proposed a major new rule today to curb the carbon pollution spewing from power plants that fuels global warming. Scientists warn that without major reductions in carbon pollution, extreme weather will become even more frequent and severe.

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